Real Radio host Russ Rollins suffers hearing loss

April 9, 2021 4:32 PM

WTKS - Orlando, Florida

Written by: Russ Ray Rollins

Dear fellow radio broadcasters, Podcasters, DJ’s & music lovers,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Russ Rollins with the “Monsters in the Morning” on Real Radio 104.1 WTKS in Orlando Florida. I’ve been a radio broadcaster for close to 30 years now. On the air for five days a week, five hours a day. That is a long time with headphones on your ears.

When I started three decades ago, you couldn’t tell me NOTHING. I was positive everything I was doing on the radio was fresh, unique and pure genius. Okay, truth be told, I still feel that way. I have learned with time, almost everything I’ve done that I thought was “right from my own little noggin”, has been done in some form or fashion already by someone else. Not much is original on radio , the flavor is in how you execute your brand of radio. That’s the original piece of the pie. I guess the point of me tell you this, is to say I was hard headed and I was convinced I knew it all.

The first year I was in radio, Press Broadcasting provided us with headphones. They were nice quality headphones, but I decided to go to “Radio Shack” and buy my own set of Audio Vox headphones with a built in sound booster. I liked it loud.

I was told by my fellow cast members, “Dude, your headphones are way too loud!”

My response , “I want to hear everything going out out on the air. The louder the better.”

When we moved to Paxon Broadcasting, they didn’t provide anyone with headphones. Everyone had to buy their own “cans”. That is an old school radio term for headphones. At that time people would share headphones, which sounds so gross now, considering the pandemic and all. I remember trying my first set of Sony Professional Gold Star headphones. Most people would turn the volume up to 5, or maybe 6. Not me, I cranked it to 10. A programs director told me, “Russ, you keep turning your headphones up that loud , you’re going to go deaf!”

“Relax” I replied “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” To be honest I was just quoting the back of a KISS t-shirt I owned, but you get the air off arrogance to my ignorant come back.

Then I moved to Clear Channel and IHeart Radio. I became friends with one of the engineers and asked him if he had any volume boosters for my headphones. He said, “Russ, what for, don’t you have them on 10 already?”

“Yes, I have em on 10, but I really want to hear every little sound that goes out on the air.” So, I had a volume booster put in so my headphones could go WAY PAST 10. I knew then I could hear every cast member, every commercial, every song, every phone call and every bad joke.

Fast forward to February 2, 2021. Due to an ear infection I had to get a hearing test. As I am sure you have already figured out, I was diagnosed with a significant amount of hearing loss. It was so bad that my doctor strongly suggested I use hearing aids so I don’t drive may wife crazy asking the same question 20 times a day. That question is “what did you say?”

It’s not like me to tell anyone who is just getting into the business, (or anyone who requires headphones) what to do. I don’t tell people what to do because I know I would not have listened. I will say, it will make me feel better If I just try to give you a strong heads up.

It’s not a good idea to turn your headphones up so loud. Hearing does not come back, it is gone for the rest of your life. Hearing aids are not very cool. When you take your mask off, they pop off and fall down on the asphalt in the Publix parking lot. You don’t want that to happen because your new hearing aids cost $5,600.00 and they are not covered by insurance. I did this to myself. This is nobody’s fault but my own. Don’t go deaf, it’s not cool.

If that helps one fellow radio broadcaster, Podcaster, DJ or kid with loud headphones….. this letter of love was worth the time and effort!! If this helped ANYONE, let me know by contacting me on Facebook or at

Sincerely ,

Russ Ray Rollins

Monsters in the Morning

Real Radio 104.1

Orlando, Florida

Russ' actual medical chart. You can see the hearing loss.

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